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Friday, September 11, 2015

Slavery and Freedom

We know these terms, right? "Slavery" is not freedom and "freedom" is not slavery. We get it. Or ... do we?

There is a perception that rules make us not free and a lack of them make us free. Rules are slavery and we want freedom. As it turns out, this isn't entirely true. I'd suggest, in fact, that it isn't true at all, at least not biblically.

The one with the least rules and, therefore, the most freedom was Adam. Just a couple of rules, really. You know, be fruitful and multiply, subdue the earth, and, oh, don't eat from that tree. Not much else. Easy. Do anything you want ... with those three provisos. And we all know how well that worked out. The result of Adam's decision to violate one little item on the list of only three was ... death for all (Rom 5:12). Paul, quoting Deuteronomy, assures us "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." (Gal 3:10)

We think that "no restraints" equals "freedom". The Bible sees freedom differently. In Galatians we read, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1) Freedom, then, is work. In fact, "You were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." (Gal 5:13) Freedom can be used to fail or to serve. But failing to use your freedom to serve one another results in submitting again to slavery ... lack of freedom.

Freedom, then, is found in serving one another through love. Does that sound right? It is right, but it doesn't actually sound right because we've been fed a bill of goods on service, love, and freedom. And lest you think I'm pointing my fingers at the "liberal Christians", relax. Who would give you a faulty view of freedom and slavery? That would be the one who wishes to enslave you.

Somehow we've bought the lie that true freedom is found in doing whatever we want. Oddly enough, when we try that, it doesn't feel very free. It is not particularly satisfying. That, of course, is because it is slavery. True freedom is found in service. True freedom is found in exercising genuine, selfless love. However, that isn't found outside of Christ (1 John 4:7). So true freedom is found in submission to Christ, dying to self and serving others. Now, is that the kind of liberty you're seeking? Maybe not, but it should be.


Josh said...

In a similar vein, I would like to share a bit of wisdom that has stuck with me. As we follow Christ we look more an more like Christ...obvious. The hidden truth is that we also begin to fully realize who we truly are. Through following Christ we begin to look more and more like ourselves. That sounds wrong, because we are not exercising "our" freedom to be who we want to be, but I have found it to be true. Thanks for sharing this piece.

Stan said...

I have to say that I hope and pray that you're wrong. Who I am -- "myself" -- is not something that I find very attractive. The closer I get to Christ, the uglier I find self to be. But, hey, maybe I'm not as close to Christ as you. Or maybe I'm just a far worse sinner than you.

Stan said...

Well, as I understand it, God's plan is that we should "become conformed to the image of His Son" (Rom 8:29). If that's the "self" we become more like, I'll agree. If that's the "more like God intended us to be", I concur. That doesn't seem to be what you're saying. Sorry that I'm confused.